Manchester, England has a history of bands that create groundbreaking music. From The Bee Gees and Herman’s Hermits to the Buzzcocks, Joy Division, and New Order to The Smiths, The Railway Children, The Stone Roses, and Oasis, the city’s contribution to music is undeniable. Modern electro-pop band The Whip got its start below a pub in Salford, Manchester. After the demise of their band Nylon Python, Bruce Carter and Danny Saville continued honing their sound until they crafted the right amounts of danceable pop, guitars, and electronica (similar to fellow Mancunians New Order). The resulting X Marks Destination, the band’s infectious debut full-length, finally sees a proper Stateside release on March 3rd.
The Whip’s Bruce Carter recently answered a few questions for Houston Calling about the band’s new album and its upcoming trip to Austin for South By Southwest.
Houston Calling: How did The Whip get started as a band?
Bruce Carter: I’ve been in bands with Danny for years and we set up camp in a pub cellar in Salford, Manchester. The cellar was haunted and none of the barmaids would go down there. It was filthy and dirt would fall from the walls onto our equipment. We went there every night for a year and recorded songs and found our sound. As soon as we had enough songs we get Nath and Fee in the band. I worked with Nath and Danny in a music store and I would teach Nath the bass lines at work. We got a load of cheap gear from there too. We’ve played non-stop since then.
HC: I first saw your band at last year’s Fader party and we were all blown away…How was that experience for you? Anything memorable stick out?
BC: Hey, we had the best time last year in Texas, that was a really hot day for my English bones. I think there was a tent-like roof on top of the stage too which kept in the heat. The synth was too hot to play. We got kitted out at that party too — free jeans, trainers, sunglasses. We saw other bands walking about with the same free clothes on all week.
HC: What are you hoping to get out of this year’s SXSW?
BC: We can’t wait to get back. I love playing loads of gigs in random places and SXSW is exactly like that. Last year we played at the bottom of a cliff, on top of a carpark, a roof top bar, and a pool party so we’re looking forward to play in more random places. We met a bunch of good people last year so it’ll be good to see some familiar faces and meet some new folk. Our album is just coming out in the U.S. so I guess that’s why our people are sending us back…
HC: How do you (or do you) see a difference in audiences in the UK as opposed to the States? Why do you think that is? Were you pleased with the response you guys got last year during SXSW?
BC: Yeah, we were really happy last year, the shows got busier throughout the week and the last couple had lines around the block. I don’t think the audiences are that different to those in England.
HC: Electronic music never really went away, but it seems it’s more popular than ever — and, with the popularity of digital technology, more bands are implementing some sort of electronic instrumentation into their music. One band that comes to mind is Chicago’s The Prairie Cartel — they use guitars, but also use a good bit of electronics in their songs. What do you consider to be your primary musical influences and how do you think they play into your songs?
BC: Yeah, I’ve spoken to those guys online. I think it’s great that everyone is more open-minded these days about throwing different genres together, it makes music so much much more exciting and throws the rules out of the window. I feel influenced by all sorts of music — if I’m in a club I love house or techno, at home or on my iPod anything goes from the last 50 years.
HC: I saw that you guys offered a USB wristband with recordings of your live shows on them and I think that’s an excellent idea that more bands should utilize to offer fans different ways of getting a band’s music. How has digital technology changed the way you record and/or write your music?
BC: It doesn’t change the way we write music but it’s great to be able to get something like a new remix released instantly without needing to build up a big budget for promo. It’s nice to see clips of new songs on YouTube that fans have filmed live as you can check out how it sounds, if the drops are working with the crowd.
HC: What are The Whip’s plans for 2009? Are you working on new material?
BC: We’re working everyday on the new album right up to SXSW and then record it when we get back from America. After the festival we’re going on tour across the U.S. It’s the first big tour over there. Some dates are with Late of the Pier, who we play with a lot here and there and some are with Deadmau5.
HC: Are there any bands you’re looking forward to seeing at this year’s SXSW?
The Whip plays its official SXSW showcase Saturday, 3.21.09, at La Zona Rosa (check www.sxsw.com for the band’s set time). The band also plays several parties during their time in Austin, including a daytime set at the Filter Magazine party at Cedar Street and a DJ set at 508 House (508 E 8th) on Friday, 3.20.08, and another daytime show at Latitude 21 on Saturday, 3.21.09.
Here’s a video of The Whip’s “Trash” from SXSW 2008: